Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Shimon and Dina, ala Gur Aryeh

When I wrote about my understanding of how to appreciate Rashi on Chumash, I mentioned with some astonishment that Shimon (ben Yaakov v'Leah) married Dina (bas Yaakov v'Leah).  Since that was not the main point of that post, I didn't spend any more time on it.  It seems that some of you were also bothered and would appreciate an answer.  The Gur Aryeh (aka Maharal) gives an answer; a nice, straight-forward, simple, short answer.  Well... short like Rashi on the pasuk is short; that is, the answer brings up a lot more questions.  Thankfully, the Maharal addresses (at least in headline form) the questions his answer begs.  I found this Gur Aryeh very interesting also because of the way he approached the issues.  I hope to be exploring the principles and examples that he uses in addressing the Chazal at hand.

The first question he addresses is: Why Shimon?  Shimon is particularly suited to Dina because both of them are rooted in din (strict judgement).  We see this reflected in Yaakov's bracha to Shimon and Leivi, noting that they were the ones who brought both Sh'chem and Yosef to judgement (49:5,6, Rashi there).  Moreover, their anger is from Eisav's bracha and Eisav mida is also din (Zohar).  (The Maharal does not say why Shimon instead of Leivi.  Perhaps because Sheivet Leivi is associated with avodas hakodesh he has to keep certain chumros.  Similarly, we see that Leivi did not carry Yaakov's coffin (Rashi to 50:13).

After that, the Maharal says, "Of course, you may still have a question of how can a full brother and sister marry."  (I was tickled that this was not the Maharal's first concern.)  On that we are given two complementary explanations.  First, from the Avos till matan torah, the family kept the the entire Torah, but they kept is as geirim who accepted upon themselves the yoke of mitzvos.  Since they were not m'tzuva from birth, their were "k'koton sh'nolad dami" (basically born again) and so the relationships prior to their acceptance were irrelevant as far as the mitzvos of forbidden relationships.  The other factor is that there was just no one else to marry.  Just as the children of Adam were allowed to marry siblings to populate the world, so to the children of Yaakov were permitted to marry siblings to populate the Jewish people.

Why is geirus before and after matan torah different than the geirus that the entire nation experienced at matan torah?  Given that the Avos kept the entire Torah, how do we explain that Yaakov married two sisters, Yehuda fulfilled yibum with his daughter-in-law, Amram married his aunt, etc, etc, etc?  Have patience.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…